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E3 final thoughts: Rich's take

E3 final thoughts: Rich's take

If we took anything away from E3 on the PC side of things, it's that we're in a period of massive transition. From Vista to physics to DirectX 10, there's a lot to be excited about. As always with new tech, it might take a little while for these and other new developments to catch on, but for nearly everything we saw this year, it's only a matter of time.

Perhaps the best example is physics acceleration. A lot of people seem excited about this idea. As we stated before we left, Ageia's new PhysX chip is the opening salvo in what looks like a revolution in PC gaming, much like 3Dfx's Voodoo chips were 10 years ago for 3D graphics. We played an impressive demo before we left called Cell Factor, but the games that support it now, such as Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter and City of Villains, don't really use physics acceleration beyond cosmetic effect. The same goes for the Unreal Tournament 2007 demo we saw that was also supposed to lean on the PhysX chip. It's essentially a chicken-and-egg problem: gamers won't get excited until enough games use physics acceleration well, and developers won't make those kinds of games until enough people have the card. So if you're excited about physics, the best strategy might be for you to evangelize physics acceleration to as many people as you can.

You can be sure that Windows Vista presents less of a marketing problem. You know you're going to switch, it's simply a matter of when. It's also no secret that Windows Vista looks like a powerful gaming platform. ATI and Nvidia will eventually roll out new DirectX 10-supporting graphics cards, and accompanying both of them and the general lead-up to Vista, you can anticipate a whole spate of DirectX 10 game announcements. The closest we've seen in any substantial form is Crysis, which one of its developers described to us as "emulating DirectX 10." Either way, that game looks amazing.

And as for marketing PC games, we expect Microsoft will have success in making even more PC users into PC gamers. The trick might be that in order to turn on the much-hyped Aero effects, you will either need to buy or learn about 3D cards. This means more people with higher-end hardware, which in turn means a more capable base of potential gamers. And if Microsoft uses its clout to put games in stores where people can find them, you can expect even longer waits to get onto your WoW server, and even more n00bs to snipe on de dust.